The Operation Homecoming writing program will be integrated as a part of medical protocol at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda, Md. The NICoE provides holistic care to service members and families affected by traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and psychological health (PH) conditions. 

The yearlong duration of the program’s pilot at the NICoE will encompass two primary facets; the first will be an expressive writing workshop for troops as a part of their clinical rehabilitation. Next, service members and their families have the opportunity to engage in a more informal 4-week creative writing and storytelling series at the Walter Reed Fischer House. Writers with military experience or previous experience working with the military community will lead the sessions.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Washington, DC, has sponsored Operation Homecoming alongside the Boeing Company, headquartered in Chicago, Ill, since the program’s inception in 2004. NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman expresses the organization’s honor to partner with the Department of Defense in order to incorporate the Operation Homecoming creative writing workshops into sessions with patients and families since, “There are strong indications that expressive writing and other forms of arts engagement can play an important role in improving the health and well-being of service men and women.” Landesman says.

Rear Admiral Alton L. Stocks, commander of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, echoes Landesman’s sentiment; “Art makes a difference in the quality of life for our wounded warriors and those around them. Operation Homecoming will be a welcome addition to NICoE’s innovative treatments for returning troops and a positive expressive outlet for their families,” Stocks says.

NICoE will incorporate the Operation Homecoming writing workshops into its interdisciplinary approach to working with patients and their families. NICoE’s holistic approach includes physical and neurological exams, family evaluation, nutrition, alternative medicine, and art therapy.

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Source: NEA